Tangerine Dream -
Live At Coventry Cathedral 1975

(DVD 2010, 28 min, Retrospect Records/Voiceprint RespctDVD8/TPDVD169)

Tangerine Dream Website        Voiceprint Records

How important is a DVD that only lasts half an hour? Well, that depends on the people who want to see or buy this release. The footage may have a historical value, but most of the time music lovers want to buy all releases of their musical heroes no matter how long or how good the footage is. This DVD performed by the German electronic music band Tangerine Dream was originally released in 2007 and again in 2010. It features only 28 minutes of music. Back in the seventies these musicians introduced electronic music mainly performed on synthesizers, to a larger audience.

On December 1974, Tangerine Dream were invited to perform at the Rheims Cathedral in France, which was in those days ground breaking because back then it wasn’t normal to invite rock musicians in the House of the Lord. This event led to more invitations coming from England. Edgar Froese, Christopher Franke and Peter Baumann were invited to perform in the cathedrals of York, Liverpool and Coventry. This short tour attracted people of the media, especially for the concert at Coventry Cathedral. On the ruins of the old church this iconic building rose from its ashes like a Phoenix after it had been bombed by the Germans in 1940. The building was used as a celebration of peace and reconciliation, as well as a lasting showcase for great contemporary art. Almost 35 years after the cathedral had been destroyed by the German Airforce three Germans entered this historic building. However, most fans of Tangerine Dream were not conscious of these historic facts at all. They only came to listen to the music.

We can now enjoy this performance on a short film made by Tony Palmer. I don’t know if the entire performance was filmed at the time, because only 28 minutes have been included on this DVD. Maybe part of the material has been destroyed – just like the cathedral once – or wasn’t good enough to be released on DVD. However, the almost half an hour of footage is certainly worth watching, because we get a good look of the way Tangerine Dream performed in the early days. Besides the great close-ups of the musicians we also see many burning candles, concrete figures and stained glasses. We see the Mellotrons, synthesizers and sequencers, but also the tape machines which were used to give the music a more echoing sound. The film has also some artistic elements in the same way as the filmed performance of Pictures At An Exhibition by Emerson, Lake & Palmer in the seventies. Strange colours and other weird effects were used, very common in those days, by the way.

The music the band performed would later on appear on their first live album. The music for the Ricochet-album was recorded at Fairfield Halls at Croydon, London during Tangerine Dream’s live performance in October 1975.

So the truth is that the music from this 28-minute long concert was not recorded at the Coventry Cathedral, but somewhere else. It was added to the footage later on for promotional purposes for a BBC-broadcast. I also have to mention that this concert was held in 1975 after the completion of the rebuilt cathedral. It was an attempt to make overtures for better contacts between the German and the English population. So after all, this DVD certainly has some historical value. Not only for the fans of Tangerine Dream, but also for those who witnessed this cultural event at close range.

To make this release more interesting the sound has been mixed in 2.1 and 5.1 surround. It certainly helped a bit, but to be honest I couldn’t hear the special sound effects. This is obvious because you still have to deal with a recording from 1975. This release is mainly recommended to people who like Tangerine Dream and the electronic music of the so-called Berlin School.

*** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)

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